Service with a bright smile
For 10 years, Brigitte Nelson has greeted customers with a kind word, a smile, and a steaming cup of coffee
There’s one thing that almost every student on campus has in common, and it’s a need for coffee. The one person who might understand this need more than students ever will is Brigitte Nelson, the awesome lady who works at the Common Ground coffeeshop in Riddell Centre and always greets you with, “Hi, dear.”
Nelson has worked at the University of Regina for 20 years, and has been working at Common Ground for 10. However, she hadn’t planned it that way.
“This job was originally supposed to last for two years, when my husband got sick,” Nelson said. “Now he’s a house husband.” Though Nelson is still with her husband, as some of her regulars know, she insists he doesn’t get free coffee.
Nelson would not have gotten her job at Common Ground if she hadn’t ended up staying at the university for that extra 18 years.
“My hours got cut at another location and I bumped somebody out and took the full-time position,” she said with a laugh. This fiesty attitude is part of her appeal; it ensures she can keep her customers happy and get things done.
“Brigitte is a stick of dynamite,” U of R student Amy Dakue said. “She’s kind of like no-nonsense meets sweetie-pie.”
Brigitte’s no-nonsense attitude is the secret to her constant cheerfulness.
“After working here for twenty years, a lot of the time it goes in one ear and out of the other,” she said about dealing with stressful customers.
It’s easy to see where Nelson’s celebrity has come from. Often, the students on campus are stressed out, late for class, or living with less sleep than necessary. Walking into Common Ground and hearing Brigitte say, “Hi, dear.” and knowing she remembers your order can be a comfort on your bad day. To Nelson, remembering things like drink orders comes naturally.
“I remember the names of faculty well enough, because they’ve been here every day for years,” she said. “Students are harder to get to know, and I usually just remember them by their drinks.”
The personalized service Nelson often gives is the reason many students go to Common Grounds.
“She’s the reason I love getting coffee at Common Grounds,” said Jenn Bergen, the executive director of the Regina Public Interest Research Group, whose office is in Riddell Centre. “I think I would probably get it somewhere else if she wasn’t working. She always calls me ‘sweetie’ or ‘dear’”
“She uses terms of endearment after she gives you your change, which makes you feel special,” Dakue said.
Nelson is proud of her customer service abilities. She bragged, “I have a higher rating than the Chapter’s Starbucks.”
After 20 years of service, Nelson has earned the right to boast. She proves how easy it is to make an impact on others for the better, and her happiness with her position in life is refreshing. When asked whether she would like to move on from her daily position at Common Grounds, she said “No, I have eight more years, and I’d like to spend them here. I just like it.”
As a regular, this is something Dakue has noticed about Nelson.
“That’s great when you meet someone who actually really likes what they’re doing, especially in the service industry because that’s something people complain about a lot,” Dakue said.
Those who enjoy their interactions with Nelson can breathe easy knowing she intends to stay at Common Grounds for the next eight years until she retires.
The friendly barista is a great example of how great service blended with a fiery yet sweet personality can change someone’s day.
Nelson’s happy attitude comes from her ability to forget about the small things that stress her out: “It’s about being happy with what you’ve been given, you know?”